n°5 – April 19, Theater

Big and small donkeys

A conversation with the director Anatolij Vasil'ev by Dmitrij Volček

Steel video da «Asino» di Anatolij Vasil’ev, presentato all'International Film Festival Rotterdam 2018.

translation from the Russian by Alessio Bergamo.
originally published in Russian in: Dmitry Volček, Ослы большие и малые. Разговор с режиссером Анатолием Васильевым,


Taking the presentation of Asino, the first feature film of the eminent theater director Anatolij Vasil'ev, the interviewer questions the Maestro on some aspects of the film (which is entirely shot in Italy), on the situation of the current Russian theater and on theatrical work of Vasiliev in Europe.
In the answers to these questions the Master offers a brief but suggestive overview of his aesthetic positions: on the concept of character transformation, on the creation of a "post-documentary" film, on the relationships between aesthetics and politics, between art and spirituality, between theater and political power in Russia, between artistic needs and productive dynamics in Europe and, at the same time, allows us to observe some Italian phenomena with his foreign eyes.

This article is available in: ITA


Dmitriy Volček, chief editor of the website of the broadcaster Radio Svoboda. In 1987-1989 he worked as a cultural editor for the magazine “Glasnost”. Since 1988 he has started working with Radio Svoboda (in the Moscow and Munich offices and, since 1995, in that of Prague) of which he is currently editor of the Culture sector and host of the saturday program “Weekly Summary”. Writer and poet, as well as journalist, he was born in Petersburg in 1964 and began to publish his writings in samizdat (clandestine publications in the Soviet period). Author of several books of prose and verse compositions, he has also edited translations and editions in Russia by W. Borroughs, F. O’Connor, G. Davenport, K. Acker, P. Bowles and other English and American authors.


Anatolij Vasil’ev, one of the most eminent directors and theater masters currently living. Born in 1942 in Penza, in the USSR, from 1968 to 1973 he was a student director at Gitis in the course directed by Marija Knebel’ and Andrej Popov. His first performances in the USSR (the ‘70s and ‘80s) were very successful both among specialists and spectators (especially with the staging of contemporary works - Slavkin, Remiz). Beginning in the late ‘80s, with the great international tounées of Cerceau (1985-1989) by Slavkin and Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore (1987-1990) begins the period in which Vasil’ev produces many shows not only with the company of his Moscow theater (called “School of dramatic art”), but also abroad (in particular in France, but also in Italy, in Germany, in Japan, in Greece) or in co-production with theaters or foreign institutions. Author of important writings and theoretical interventions, only partially translated into Italian, and protagonist of an intense pedagogical activity, he has always practiced and studied cinema as well. He has recently started working more systematically, both as an actor (for the Cyclopean DAU project, shown in Paris for two weeks starting January 23, 2019) and as a director. Asino, film shot entirely in Italy, whose presentation at the film festival of Rotterdam 2017 is the starting point for the interview presented here, is his first feature film.